April 22, 2011

Smart cats use a potty

AT SUMMER ANCHORAGES in the San Juans, the morning activity starts early. Even before most of us have had our first cup of coffee, a parade of inflatables starts heading for the shore, each one with an eager dog up forward pointing the way, desperately searching for the best place to pee.

Cat owners are not burdened with this task. Cats will use trays of litter. But on a small sailboat, a tray of litter is a burden of its own, and an odiferous burden at that.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could train your cat to use the head? Well, you can if you know how. I was the personal friend of one cat who circumnavigated on a sailboat and who used the toilet all the time. He never flushed it when he was finished — never did get the hang of the seacocks – but at least he never used up valuable stores of toilet paper, either.

If you would like your cat to emulate this paragon of virtue, just dial up www.karawynn.net/mishacat/toilet.html

Karawynn Long, a writer and designer living in Seattle, explains in detail how she trained her beloved Misha to perch on the porcelain in less than two weeks. Considering the general level of intelligence among cats, and their resistance to doing anything that appears to be designed to please you, or save you trouble, that was a magnificent feat. Your cat might not be as brilliant as Misha was, and you might not be as persuasive as Long, but it’s probably still worth persevering when you consider the alternative.

Long’s method starts by moving the cat’s litter box next to the toilet, and gradually raising it until it’s level with the seat, and then right on top of the seat.

The next stage is to remove the litter box entirely and find a large metal mixing bowl that fits snugly into the top of the toilet with a couple of inches of litter in it. Then you gradually reduce the amount of litter until it’s almost all gone, after which you start adding water.

Once the water in the mixing bowl is a couple of inches deep, and your cat is comfortable with the new process, you simply remove the mixing bowl, leaving the bare toilet. Et voila! says Long, your cat is now toilet trained.

I have left out some fancy bits about how you get your feline friend to place his/her feet correctly on the toilet seat, but if you’re serious you will visit her website anyhow and get the full instructions.

I have to admit that Misha did his stuff on land, not on a boat, and I don’t know how a cat manages on a bouncing, heeled sailboat. But I do know they can do it, and WILL do it if they think they’re getting away with something.

Today’s Thought
Did St. Francis preach to the birds? Whatever for? If he really liked birds he would have done better to preach to the cats.
— Rebecca West

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #189
When to make sound signals? Most boaters know you have to make them in fog, but it’s also required if you find yourself in snow, thick rain, dust storms or any other situation in what the rules call “restricted visibility,” by day and by night. And here’s a little-known fact: You must make the signals when you’re NEAR an area of restricted visibility, such as a fog bank, even if you’re in brilliant sunshine yourself. That’s to warn a ship in the fog that you’ll be right in her path when she pops out of it.

“This here plant belongs to the fuchsia family.”
“Uh-huh. You just looking after it while they’re away?”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Anonymous said...

John- Terry and Heidi Kotas, on board their sailboat SV Cetus in the Sea Of Cortez have also trained their cat to use the head. Their blog is at: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/cetus/
Dave C.

Deborah said...

Our kitty is toilet trained too; she uses the toilet both at home on on the boat. Best thing we ever did.